“Lent is a favourable season for opening the doors to all those in need and recognizing in them the face of Christ.”

— Pope Francis

On Feb. 17, our Lenten journey begins with Ash Wednesday. Ash Wednesday marks the first day of the 40 days of Lent dedicated to reflection, fasting, alms giving and good works in preparation for Easter. One concrete way we can sacrifice and share our gifts with others is to participate in the collection on Ash Wednesday, which supports the outreach work of Vermont Catholic Charities. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the programs which Vermont Catholic Charities operates are more critical than ever.

Since 1929, Vermont Catholic Charities has helped neighbors in need. We have no geographical limitations — we help individuals from all 14 counties. Guided by our faith, we do what we do because we are Catholic, not because those we serve are Catholic.

Emergency Aid:

Katie has two daughters and recently had a baby boy who had some health issues at birth. Due to unanticipated medical expenses, Katie found herself with an electric disconnect notice. VCC assisted with the utility bill to ensure the family avoided a disconnect. We also advised Katie of other available resources. Katie said, “Thank you for your help. Your kindness has renewed my faith in the goodness of people.”

Prison Ministry Transition Assistance:

“Thank you for your support. I have now found a full-time job and have enrolled in Community College of Vermont. My recovery is going on seven months of complete absence from drugs and alcohol. Without your support these dreams may not be coming true. Thank you for believing in a complete stranger.”

Counseling Services:

“Counseling has been life-changing for me. I regret that it took me so long to seek help. I believe God brought me here to Vermont, to this Diocese, to Catholic Charities, and to [my counselor]. I do not feel like I am alone anymore. It is okay to get help and ask for help. It has made my life better. It saved my marriage. It saved my family.” Denture Program:

Sandy is a mother of three school-age children and works at a gas station at night. She came to Vermont Catholic Charities after hearing from a friend about our Denture Program. Sandy had her teeth extracted years ago but has been unable to afford dentures. Sandy was overwhelmed when we helped her get dentures. She said, “Dentures have changed my life. I am now comfortable attending my kids’ events. I am confident at my job. My health is better as I can eat a broader range of nutritional foods. I am smiling at everyone all the time! I have never been happier.”

As we begin this Lenten journey together, we ask you to prayerfully consider participating in the Ash Wednesday collection; any gift, no matter the size, makes a difference. As a Catholic community, let us continue to do Christ’s work here in Vermont and show Christ’s love to our neighbors in their times of need. By sharing our gifts with others, we are sharing the Good News that Jesus Christ has risen.

— Mary Beth Pinard, executive director, Vermont Catholic Charities Inc.

— Originally published in the Feb. 13-19, 2021, issue of The Inland See.